Medicaid Expansion: money, politics, and plain talk
Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune only sees the political debate behind both HB2′s restrictions on abortion and Medicaid expansion.
The state didn’t expand its Medicaid program, and you’ll still find legislators across the spectrum thinking about the consequences, good or bad.
This summer’s debate on abortion restrictions turned entirely on politics. It wasn’t about the money.
Lay aside the silliness that any Conservative considers abortion simply about the money or politics. Let’s look at the Medicaid debate. Rather than the TT’s simplistic view of “9 Federal dollars for every 1 dollar the State spends,” remember that the operative word in “Medicaid expansion” is “expansion.”
Under the expansion, the only criteria would be income. Any asset test or obligation to look for work would be forbidden by federal law.
Healthy men and women who choose not to work, not those on disability – and even those whose employers offer some sort of health insurance would have come under the State’s Medicaid. Many more would find it “cheaper” to quit work or avoid work and go under Medicaid and other benefits. (Back when I was delivering babies, I had several two-income families who found it better for mom to quit work after she became pregnant, since Medicaid picked up the cost of insurance and co-pays for her and the kids.)
I remember a tall, healthy-appearing (I’m qualified to judge, BTW) 30-year-old man who testified against HB2 and all its precursors. He not only showed up for repeated Committee meetings, he was there every time for the House and Senate hearings. He loudly claimed to be a Texas law school graduate who is (STILL!) unemployed – and criticized and ranted at our Legislators for not “giving” him a job and benefits. Who wants to pay his Medicaid?
The expansion wouldn’t significantly cut the oft-quoted high rate of uninsured in Texas, even according to TT’s own numbers. Over 1/2 of Texas’ uninsured make too much money for Medicaid, and 1/3 make more than $50,000 a year. Law-breaking immigrants (someone’s bound to be insulted if I use the term “illegal immigrants”) make up 1/4 of the uninsured, but they wouldn’t be covered without breaking a few more laws. The disabled, low-income mothers and children and the elderly in nursing homes would have continued to be covered under current programs – at least as long as the money holds out.